BY HEATHER J. CHIN AND JAIME DEJESUS
Gerritsen Beach was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Brooklyn, with Superstorm Sandy’s 10-foot storm surge flooding over 90 percent of the neighborhood’s 1,800 or so houses. Now, a year later, some of those houses and their residents are closer to getting back on their feet than others.
“At this point, there is one common denominator: if a house is still incomplete, it is because the homeowner lacks resources,” said Jameson Wells, executive director of the nonprofit Gerritsen Beach Long Term Recovery Project, which has established and maintained partnerships with local and regional relief and recovery organizations.
“[Residents have] the heart, hope and skill, but still need continued support and funding,” Wells added. “We’re still not there yet.”
The most prevalent problem residents face are mold issues and the problem of houses being put back together without proper mold remediation.
That is why ongoing support from the greater Brooklyn and New York City communities, such as through the borough’s Brooklyn Recovery Fund, is still needed and welcomed.
“We are pleased with efforts of federal and state government, but in Brooklyn, the Rockaways, and Staten Island, things still need to be done,” said Jerry Kassar, chief of staff for State Senator Marty Golden. “We have to be committed to future and work within new guidelines that have been given to us. We have to give families as much assistance possible so they can return to the lives they once had.”
Volunteers and donations are also valuable, as the Gerritsen Beach Fire Department (GBFD) has seen all year, serving as a drop-off point for cleaning supplies, nonperishable food and financial contributions towards recovery efforts.
More recently, GBFD, located at 52 Seba Avenue, has transitioned into hosting community fundraisers and course trainings in CPR, EMT and first-aid.
Something that will help with the long-term emergency services efforts is the donation of a Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Kit to GBFD by the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center (KPTC) at North Shore University Hospital and the Brooklyn-based ASHORE Inc.
“We want to donate funds to where it will most help the community,” said Arlene Gilden, treasurer of ASHORE.
“KPTC chose [GBFD] because of what it does for the community. Hopefully, they never have to use it, but just in case, the kit is made for multiple different sizes of children, up to around age 15 and sometimes young adults,” explained KPTC President Joseph Corace. “We don’t even know what these kits do in terms of saving kids’ lives. That one minute [could be everything].”